Posted On September 10, 2019

Hope for a Despairing Ogress

by | Sep 10, 2019 | The Gospel and the Christian Life, Featured

My daughter hijacks the auxiliary cord every time she gets in my minivan.   Recently, she has been listening to “I Know It’s Today” from Shrek The Musical.  And, I hate to say it, but listening to it has reminded me I am a lot more like Fiona than a Disney princess, especially when it comes to being a church planter’s wife.

Like Fiona, I know “there are rules, and there are strictures” (or scriptures in my case) guiding my life.  I really believe the storybook–the Bible–I’ve read by morning light.  I know Jesus promises we will have tribulations, though He has overcome the world (John 16:33), and I will receive a crown of life if I remain steadfast through those trials (James 1:12).  God, the great Storywriter, has promised me a good ending with a “white knight and his steed” (Rev. 19:11).

But, like Fiona, I’m tempted to look at everyone else’s fairytale, assume I see their happy ending, and wonder when I’m going to get mine.  Fiona considers Rapunzel, trapped in a tower, wishing she were dead, and Snow White, lying in a glass box, tricked by an evil queen. I consider that church, deserted by their core team, wishing they had waited, and that other church, lacking financial resources, wondering if ends will meet.  Then, like Fiona, I skip ahead, skip ahead.  I see Prince Charming came to rescue them.  God answered their prayers and provided that church with qualified elders and humble deacons and that other church with generous givers and countless resources, and that church and that other church flourished.  And, like Fiona, I keep hoping my Prince Charming will show up today.

Fiona realizes all the other princesses are just like her, except they are not still waiting, and I realize all the other church plants and planters are just like us, needing Jesus and waiting on the Spirit, except it looks like He already showed up for them and we are still waiting for Him to show up for us.  And, when I go down this trail of despair, I begin to begrudge “the peril and the pitfalls”–those who we hoped would join us but haven’t, those who have left, and those we want to reach and haven’t. Psalm 27:14 may command me, “be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” in the middle of these trials and heartaches. But, like Fiona, I desperately bellow: “And the waiting! The waiting! The waiting. The waiting. The waiting!” In her impatience, Fiona becomes a vandal, ripping pages from the storybooks she has been reading, and in my impatience, I vandalize the gospel, believing I’m unloved and forgotten.  I question: “Are you there, God? It’s me, Cassie.”

But unlike Fiona, I am deceived.  I am not waiting on my Prince Charming.  He has already rescued me and blessed me “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3).  And, He is showing up in tangible ways–burning away the doubting parts of my heart, pruning a people who will bear good fruit, and sowing seeds in the dead hearts of those we pray will believe.

Fiona’s Prince Charming wasn’t a handsome prince on a white steed; it was a gassy ogre with a loud-mouthed donkey.  And, my Savior is not a carnal king with an earthly kingdom; He’s a humble servant with a heavenly kingdom.  If He was “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Is. 53:3) and I am to “share abundantly in [His] sufferings” (2 Cor. 1:5), can I not trust that He will “restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish” me and allow me to partake in His “eternal glory” (1 Pet. 5:10) through the trials of church planting?

And, like Fiona, I may see myself as an ogress, disappointed, and disgusted with my tendency toward doubt and despair.  Yet, He looks at me and calls me Beloved.  “[H]is desire is for me” (Song 7:10), and His “banner over me [is] love” (Song 2:4).

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